Parisara Ganapati


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Celebrating the festival with a little Sanity! :)

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Parisara Ganapati

  1. 1. Ganapati is coming… Sri Vinayaka Chathurthi is coming soon … Aug 23 this year …… What thoughts cross your mind when u hear about Vinayaka Chathurthi Did you think about… • Modak….. ….Ok …What else • The shiny glossy colorful mesmerising idols of Ganapati • And ….. explosion of creativity in preparing the Ganapati idols, pandal decorations…. • Poojas, Bhajans, • And… loud music, unattended garbage ….and.. • Environmental damage ????????
  2. 2. You know…. • Vinayaka Chathurthi is celebrated in the Bhadrapada month every year. • Idols of Ganapati of different sizes made of clay and other materials are setup in community pandals, individual homes and pooja performed on Chaturthi day and in many places for 10 days. • All the idols are immersed in water on the same day or over the 10 days ending with Anantha Chaturdashi. • This is typically a time for all the young folks in the area to get together, setup pooja pandals…. Go around all the nearby pooja pandals and view all the elaborate arrangements, decorations and of course… prasad….
  3. 3. Do you know?…. • The idols were earlier usually made of clay, were not painted or used natural dyes, and there were only a few idols worshipped in the village /town. • Nowadays, the idols are made of jute, hay, cloth, paper, wood, Thermocol, Plaster of Paris, adhesive materials and synthetic paints. Usually, the bigger idols are made using non-clay material. • Thermocol is not-biodegradable while paints contain heavy metals such as chromium, lead, nickel, cadmium and zinc, Plaster of Paris is many times contaminated by Asbestos, a known carcinogen. • Typically, the Ganapati idols that have glossy, shiny finish have been coloured using synthetic paints. These paints contain toxic ingredients that get released to the water and soil after immersion. For example, the Golden color used for the crown gets its color from Chromium compounds, the green , yellow colors from lead and lead compounds. These toxic chemicals have a harmful affect on plants, animals and humans.
  4. 4. Do you know?…. • In many places, the idols are immersed in open wells, tanks, lakes, rivers, sea. These water bodies are also used for drinking water and irrigation and other activities. These toxins when released to water seep into the soil and cause both short-term and long-term impact on the environment and health. • During the immersion, a lot of the pooja material is wrapped in sealed plastic bags and disposed off in the water bodies. At the pandals, lots of plastic is typically used for prasad, and not correctly disposed. • The bio-accumulation of heavy metals in the biological system transfers the toxic elements from the producer to consumer level which can be a future health hazard. • Detailed studies have been made by concerned individuals and various organizations that show the increasing quantities of the toxic material over the years.
  5. 5. Pollution measurements … (studies done in Bhopal, Bangalore) Parameter Pre-immersion During immersion Post-immersion pH 8.1-8.3 8.5-8.7  8.7-8.9  One 2Kg idol of Turbidity 19-29 18-21 38-45  Ganapati painted with D.O. 8-14.2 9.6-17.6  2.8-13.6  Alkalinity 96-114 86-114 102-130  lead based paints leaks Chloride 15.7-16.9 9.4-10.2  18.5-16.1 2gm or more of lead . 156-172  Total solids 144-167 137-144 Other heavy metals are BOD 13.2-28.8 20.4-34.4  13.2-36.4  COD 10-80 20-80 120-180  also leaked based on the colours used. Heavy Metal Pre-immersion During immersion Post-immersion Surface Bottom Surface Bottom Surface Bottom Ni (Nickel) BDL BDL BDL 4 BDL 4 Cr (Chromium) 4 6 5 8 8 18 Mn (Magnesium) 102 240 112 326 116 340 Pb (Lead) 246 526 340 704 460 648 •BDL= Below detectable limit. •BOD – Biological Oxygen Demand •COD – Chemical Oxygen Demand •*All units except pH and turbidity are in mg/I.
  6. 6. Health impact of the pollutants Lead Chromium Cadmium Manganese Nickel It has no role in Maximum allowable Cadmium has no It is an essential It is present in the human health. concentration in constructive purpose in traced element. body naturally. drinking water for the human body. chromium (VI) is 0.05 milligrams per litre. Lead poisoning (also High concentrations of Cadmium and its Manganese Exposure to nickel known as colica chromium(III) in the compounds are poisoning has been metal and soluble pictonium, saturnism, cell can lead to DNA extremely toxic even in linked to impaired compounds should plumbism, or damage. low concentrations. motor skills and not exceed painter's colic) is a cognitive disorders 0.05 mg/cm³ . medical condition in children. caused by increased levels of the metal lead in the blood. Lead may cause It damages the kidneys, High cadmium levels in A form of Sensitized irreversible the liver and blood the water, air, and soil neurodegeneration individuals may neurological damage cells through oxidation has been particularly similar to show an allergy to as well as renal reactions resulting in problematic in Japan. Parkinson's Disease nickel affecting their disease, haemolysis, Liver and The rice that was grown called "manganism" skin resulting cardiovascular effects, Kidney damage.Skin in cadmium has been linked to dermatitis. and reproductive allergy and many skin contaminated irrigation manganese toxicity. lesions. water resulted in itai-itai exposure. disease (Bone softening (Osteoporosis) and Kidney failure). It is also Carcinogenic.
  7. 7. Ganapati pooja was not intended to create pollution…. • We are contributing to pollution because of lack of awareness of the impact of the distorted practices during Ganapati pooja. Vinayaka Chaturthi, like most other Sanatana Dharma practices, is intended to promote awareness of the importance of the environment and the close dependencies between the human species and the environment. • The Rishis were aware of the enormous negative impact of unmitigated human activities on the whole environment and its effect on human welfare. The various festivals at different times of the year are part of elaborate lessons/reminders to mankind about maintaining harmony with the environment apart from help with man's spiritual journey.
  8. 8. Significance of Ganapati pooja… • The image of Ganapati with his elephant head itself is a symbol of nature. • The concept of preparing the idol with clay obtained from nature and returning it back to nature by immersion is very symbolic of the right path for mankind to return to the roots of nature. • A special ritual during traditional Ganapati pooja is the Doorva Yugma Pooja (Archana of Lord Ganapati with grass). • Another unique ritual during Ganapati pooja is the Archana with the leaves of 21 different plants, trees.
  9. 9. All this leads us to think about.. • How come such a environment friendly practice has morphed into something with diabolically opposite effect. Is it being observed in the right spirit? • How have the concepts and practices have deviated over time from the ideal, prescribed traditions.? • We have been placing more emphasis on grandeur and pomp and color and ignoring the basic ideas behind Ganapati pooja. • It is high time we review our practices and understand and perform the pooja in the right spirit ….
  10. 10. Ganapati is the God of Agriculture • When we worship Ganapati we are worshipping Mother Earth and its creations. It is a process of revisiting the creation and realizing the process of creation, sustenance and destruction. • Ganapati is the God of Agriculture. We need two shovels and one plough, the shovels are represented by the large ears , the lone tusk represents the plough , the trunk indicates the source of irrigation . • The idols of Ganapati must be made out of clay, it is better if it made with your hands, whatever the shape you are able to give it , ugly or crude it does not matter. • According to the Agamas, the size of the idols should not be big. The amount of Naivedya offered to the deity twice a day and served as prasadam must be 10 times the size of the idol! If this idol is just the size of a fist, at least 1 kg of rice must be offered for naivedyam.. If not Shatavadhani Dr. R.Ganesh done in the right proportions, the pooja does not yield any fruit. Multi-lingual Scholar • The current practices with focus on pomp, splendor, lavishness has to be replaced with the original spirit of true devotion and submission and eco-friendly traditions. Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  11. 11. Ganapati means Lord of the senses.. • Ganapati means the Lord of the senses. That Lord is within us. • Ganapati pooja is best performed with the attention turned inwards. • All the practices and rituals during Ganapati pooja must be performed with great care. • The idols used must be prepared of from clay, the immersion of the idols in clear water is a must. Use of shiny, pollution causing paints must be shunned. • All the practices must be done in such a way that environment, our neighborhood, no-one gets adversely affected by the pooja. H.H. Swami Brahmanandaji Chinmaya Mission, Bangalore Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  12. 12. Festivals are part of the great Indian spiritual and cultural traditions.. • India has a great spiritual and cultural tradition, it has been safeguarding us all these generations and helping us progress. Observing festivals like Ganapati is one of the examples of this tradition. • If these festivals are celebrated in keeping with the spirit of ecological sustainment, it will bring great joy to all the people. Of late, we are seeing a distortion in the observance of these festivals. • The practice of immersing painted Ganapati idols with toxic chemicals in water bodies like wells, lakes etc that are used for drinking water must be avoided. • It is best if the idols are made of clay and not colored. • In Sri Math, children prepare the idols from fresh clay do pooja and bury it in the mud.In the arid areas , it makes a lot of sense not to pollute the scarce water sources. H.H. Dr. Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru Sri Murugha Math Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  13. 13. Pooja in the spirit of the scriptures.. • The efforts of Bala Gangadhar Tilak have lead to the Ganapati festival taking social dimension,, and it has now become a popular festival all over the country. • According to the scriptures, the idol of Ganapati has to be prepared from clay obtained from the tanks, ponds, lakes and other water bodies. • Unfortunately, the practice of using toxic chemicals to paint the idols has lead to a lot of environmental damage. This has to be stopped , and only natural dyes of vegetable origin have to be used. • Also, in the name of Ganapati festival, a lot of activities that are against the spririt of our religion are taking place in the Ganapati pandals during the puja days and also during immersion. • Such activities must be avoided as it sets a very wrong precedent to our younger generation. • We need to wake up and observe this festival in a way suggested by our scriptures and approved by the great H.H. Swami Harshanandaji Gurus of this land. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore • The festival must be celebrated in a way that will elevate the people participating in it and ensures no damage is done to the precious eco-system. Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  14. 14. Ganapati worship with a sense of humility .. • A movement to spread the awareness about the need for a ecologically friendly Ganapati festival is an essential and unavoidable need of the day. • The practice of making large Ganapati idols with non-clay materials is gaining ground, along with the use of toxic colours. This is a big risk to the health of the people. • Ganapati pooja has to be performed with concern about the environment and also the best cultural and spiritual practices should be reinforced. • Ganapati will not be unhappy if you worship an naturally uncolored clay idol. In fact , he will appreciate it. • Do not use any toxic paints in the making H.H. Sri Sri Sri Balagangadharanatha Swamiji of the idols, it has a very significant impact Sri Adichunchanagiri Mahasamsthana Math on the environment. Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  15. 15. Building a sense of environmental awareness and ownership.. • We have to inculcate the perspective of patriotism, spirituality and environment protection in our everyday life and practice it. • Sri Krishna sent this message of environment protection through his various deeds. Such messages are a very essential part of all Sanatana Dharma practices. • Festivals must be celebrated with great energy and gaiety, but also with the concern for the environment and for the cultural and spiritual sensibilities. • Any practices, events that violate the spirit of societal and and environment welfare must be H.H. Sri Visvesha Teertha Swamiji avoided. Sri Pejavara Adhokshaja Math • Use of big idols made with non-clay materials must be avoided.The idols used must be prepared of the idols from clay. Only natual dyes must be used to color the idols to prevent any environmental damage. • A big movement to ensure a ecologically friendly , spiritually rich Ganapati festival must be taken up. Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  16. 16. Thus says Sri Guruji regarding Parisara Ganapati! • Lord GANAPATI is always pleased provided you have Generosity, Adjustment, New outlook, Alertness, Purity, Appreciation, Tolerance and Introspection Dr. A.Chandrashekara Udupa • To realise Him, better inculcate perfect Faith, Devotion, (Doctorji) Yearning first and practice praying for the welfare of all Divine Park, Saligrama Jeevakotis in this Universe. Continued…. 8/15/2009
  17. 17. Thus says Sri Guruji regarding Parisara Ganapati! • Be humble and never grumble. God always sees the inner purity of Heart-Mind Complex and not at all the external pomp and luxury. So install His glory in your heart first and then lead a life of duty, dedication and direction. • When Lord Ganesh dwells in your heart, then no need to worship another idol. So pray humbly to Him to glorify Himself in your intellect first and relay inner tuition in your intuition and then there is not at all an urge to dispose Him in your Life-time. • Till His greatness remains well imprinted in your Intellect, you have to worship Him on Ganesha Chowthi day and Dr. A.Chandrashekara Udupa immerse Him in a river remembering the motto 'free the (Doctorji) mud to mud only!' But be benevolent to the Nature and Divine Park, Saligrama never harm its mildness and texture and succumb to kukarma and suffer later!” 8/15/2009
  18. 18. Ganesha is the Lord of Wisdom.. • On the night of Ganesh Chathurti, we are warned not to look at the moon… It is said that if you look at the moon on this night, then you will get blamed for something you didn’t do!So don’t look at the moon!!! • Funny……, is there some deeper meaning to this?. The moon symbolizes the mind… Just as the moon waxes and wanes, the mind goes up and down… Some days it makes you feel good, other times it can drag you down into the pits of despair for the smallest of reasons… The mind is what constantly gets you into trouble… • Ganesha is the Lord of Wisdom and it is He who teaches us how to get over the vagrancies of the mind, how to be established firmly in Knowledge and let nothing shake us out from the Bliss of the Being. And so on the day when we are going to celebrate Lord Ganesha, we don’t look at the moon… meaning Follow Knowledge, not your H.H. Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji little mind! . The Art of Living • Don’t look at the moon! Don’t let that small mind of yours rule you… Be in Knowledge, Be wise, Be happy! Celebrate Ganapati in Satsangh, in the spirit of knowledge and reverence for nature. …..
  19. 19. Ganesha is the Lord of Wisdom.. • We should make sure we consider the impact on the environment when we celebrate Ganapati pooja. • If you use Ganapati idols which are colored using synthetic paints, we should not immerse these idols. If you necessarily have to immerse the idols, then you should use only paints based on natural dyes. • Actually you should not use any paints, you should use idols that are made of clay and just retain the natural color. See the elephant , it has only one color, so the Ganapati idol you use for worship should not have any additional color. • Use of any harmful paints will mean you are disrespecting Mother Ganga Bhavani. H.H. Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji continued.. The Art of Living Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  20. 20. Ganesha is the Lord of Wisdom.. • Before immersing the idols, normally the water element, Ganga Bhavani is worshipped. However, after the worship, if we immerse idols painted with toxic chemicals, pooja items in sealed plastic bags and other non bio- degradable material and pollute the water, we will be actually showing disrespect to Ganga Bhavani. • We have to keep the Pancha Tatva,The five elements – space, air, fire, water. earth free from pollution . That is real worship. • Let us keep Ganapati in our heart when we perform the pooja and make sure we do not harm the environment. H.H. Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji The Art of Living Video, Transcript of the full message is available at
  21. 21. Parisara Ganapati What you can do… • Now, that you are aware , it is the beginning of the larger work that needs to be done to get back on track. • It is a huge task, one that can be done with the collaboration, co-operation of all the stakeholders including makers, dealers, consumers. • All the makers of the idols have to educated about the importance of preparing unpainted idols. They must be provided information about and access to the naturally available dyes and their preparation. • It has to be started at the individual level with you. • You can make a difference, with your actions and also by spreading the awareness .
  22. 22. Parisara Ganapati What you can do… • Use small idols ( 12 – 14 inches tall) made of clay only. • Use only idols that are uncolored. Once the decorations are done you will not really notice the absence of colors. • If you must use painted idols, remember the shiny material is most damaging because of the heavy metal content. • Natural dye based paints do not give a glossy finish, but do look as pretty and cause no damage to the environment. • Do not immerse big idols , re-use / exchange with others for the next year. For the immersion, you can use only the small , clay , unpainted idols. This is being organized and practiced in Pune. • Do not immerse idols with paints , artificial materials in water bodies used for drinking .. wells, ponds, lakes. • Share this information with your friends, relatives, colleagues and promote awareness. Forward the message, add links on your blogs, put up a note on your office/school/college notice board…
  23. 23. Visit • This site has lots of resources to help with the promotion of eco-friendly Ganapati Pooja. This site has : Details of vendors supplying ecoGanesha idols. Videos, documents of ecoGanesha Idol making. Details on the natural dyes and their preparation. Details on the environmental studies. Full length videos of the messages from the Dharma Gurus. Transcriptions of the messages. A Forum to discuss ideas and co-ordinate efforts to make this mission possible. Links to other resources, organizations promoting greener Ganapati celebrations…
  24. 24. Acknowledgements… Research & Content Music • Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh Multi-lingual Scholar • Dr. Harish Bhat Member, Bio-Diversity Mgmt Committee BBMP, Bangalore Filming Aashritha Photo & Video • Dr. Na Someswara Doctor & Medical Writer • Sri. N.Shashidhara Editing Convener, ecoGanesha Project, Crafts Council of Karnataka, NRCLPI Digi Video • Regional Design & Technical Development Centre(Technical Wing), Min. of Textiles, Govt. of India Bangalore, Art , Tech Support Dhyeya Tech • Sri Chakravarthy Sulibele Orator & Author 8/15/2009
  25. 25. An An Initiative from… In Association with 8/15/2009
  26. 26. *Shri.NaickJi, Koramangala, Bangalore, May 2007